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For this program you’ll be using the RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) scale. It sounds fancier than it really is: A rating of 1 means that it felt like you could have performed another nine reps, while a 10 means that you couldn’t have done another rep if your life depended on it. For the last two sets, you should be using a weight that has you at an RPE of 8-9. When that same weight starts to feel like a 6-7, add five pounds—or less if your gym has half-pound or one-pound plates. Small progression is safe progression.
However, Presciano also urges you not to push it too hard. This program is meant to challenge you, not break you, so if you want to stick with pretty much the same weight for the entire program, that’s cool, too. “You’ll still grease the groove with your lifts,” Presciano says in regards to mastering the form of the movement. And once you become efficient at moving the weight, the pounds will start to pile on.
For more novice lifters, Presciano urges them to “take one set off everything for the first eight-day cycle. Back in the day, there were times when the workouts were so excruciating that we would do only two to three sets of the last few exercises.”